In July 2021, I will be recording Philippa Duke Schuyler’s piano work Seven Pillars of Wisdom, for future release with Centaur Records.

Philippa Schuyler, 1959. Photo by Fred Palumbo.

Schuyler was a mixed-race composer, pianist, and journalist whose works have not been recorded or published, in large part due to her early death in the Vietnam War. Written in 1964-65, Seven Pillars of Wisdom was performed by Schuyler during her lifetime, but the manuscript pages have remained scattered amongst archive boxes since her untimely death. I reassembled and transcribed the full work, using Schuyler’s combination of handwritten musical notation and performance instructions. Inspired by T.E. Lawrence’s book of the same title, this hourlong work includes a prologue, seven movements, and an extended epilogue. Perhaps also influenced by Schuyler’s experiences reporting on war crimes in the Congo, Seven Pillars explores challenging ideas about conflict, violence, and faith through interwoven themes spelled with her own musical alphabet. It is my hope that this recording will inspire a renewed interested in Schuyler’s life and music, which has been almost entirely unheard since her death in 1967.

For the rest of 2021, I will be fundraising to offset the costs of recording and distribution. If you would be interested in becoming a donor, you can currently follow this fundraising link and select the project from the drop-down menu to contribute. A more extensive site from the college is on the way.

Many thanks to Jaye Ingram for providing his services as recording engineer and to Shandon Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC for allowing me to record on their Steinway piano.